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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:58 pm 
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I don’t often post on here, but wanted to share my thoughts (and probably start a debate!) to see how others feel now this whole process is almost over. For the past year our lives had really changed - I appreciate it will be more/less for others. I have always broadly agreed with streaming as I found my high school very easy and was not really challenged where I could have been. At the beginning of year 5 for DD1 in September 2013, we started to look at a variety of schools. When we got home DD1 literally pleaded with us to let her sit the 11 plus as she had fallen in love with the local girls’ grammar :roll: .

At this time I would have considered her to be pretty much just a hairs breadth above average – it could go either way. She made it clear she did not want to risk it and wanted to do ‘extra’ – like her friends! I should point out where we live there are many, many grammar schools and then for us, there is pretty much just one school it will be, due to admissions criteria (we are not catholic, live too far from the other schools etc.) so effectively no choice if we do not sit the Kent Test.

We had a ‘big chat’ about the commitment it would require from her and how it would affect her life for the next year, if that’s what she really wanted. She stated she was willing to make the sacrifices and as a result we did roughly an extra three hours per week, between my husband and me, using a variety of resources to support us, along with copious bottles of wine for our sanity :wink: . We did not get her a personal tutor, but we did enrol her at a club for an extra 90 mins every Saturday which was one tutor to several children. I must add that this was at her request, as she informed us she was one of the only ones in her class without a tutor. Although I fundamentally disagree with tutoring for the Kent Test, as I feel it defeats the object of selecting children who are naturally and consistently higher achievers, I couldn’t say no to her once she informed me of this.

On rolled a year of spending most weekends doing homework, then her club, then extra with Mum and Dad both at weekend and about 3 nights per week. Even school holidays were affected, where she spent about 60% of the time working. This summer we didn’t plan a holiday as she was drawing up a timetable of what she wanted to study and practice! And she stuck to it – most of the time. Most evenings she was exhausted, but she got an extra boost when her teacher informed us after just a few weeks of her doing a bit extra, that she had made amazing progress at school and she scored highly in her Sats and was ‘deemed suitable’ for grammar by the school. This progress continued throughout her school year.

Whilst it is no bad thing to encourage your child to do well and work hard to achieve what they want, I have at times very terribly sad, watching her stressing about things she just can’t ‘get’, things she forgets and the looming exam date :( . She has only just turned 10 and sometimes she looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Of course I have said the result doesn’t matter, etc., but playground talk amongst her peers, seemed to put pay to my efforts to calm her down. I don’t think I realised how stressed she had been until she came home last night having sat the test, visibly relieved and as happy and carefree as I have seen her in, oh, about a year. Funnily enough, the result doesn’t seem to matter much to either of us at this stage. I think we are so exhausted with it all, it’s now beyond us to summon up enough energy to care about it right now! :lol:

But here is the thing; how did we end up on this roller coaster with every other parent and child? Because it is all about how your child performs on one day, in one test. At the age of 10/11. All the hard work she has put in over the last few years at school counts for nothing in this test. Her sats scores count for nothing. Her attitude to learning and her keenness to commit to academia do not count (she’s even commented she is fed up with those in her class who clearly don’t want to be there). One year a child may pass, the next year the same child may not. KCC are desperate to stop tutoring and rightly so. There are allegations of leaking test content for those OOC sitting it some days later. Some schools do mocks, some don’t. Surely we have to look at this unfair system as a whole? Unless I am missing something, why can’t the grammar selection be based on a child’s proven abilities over a longer period of time? I understand this opens a whole new can of worms, perhaps with teachers disagreeing with parents and DD1 even pointed out that teachers have ‘favourites’ so it wouldn’t work. What does everyone else think or am I the only one thinking this system has become farcical and needs to change?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:17 pm 
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There's no ideal answer. Scrap grammars is the "simplest" but that's not simple either.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:26 pm
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This is a great post.

I think it should be a combination.

50% of the mark should come from teachers assessment on academic and attitude backed up by CATs and SATS.

50% should come from one test of about one hour.

That's how I would change things :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:32 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:21 pm
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Hats off to your daughter for being so determined and committed!

Whatever the result, she will do very well in school and life with that attitude!

I agree that the system sucks but it's what we are stuck with and I'm sure all that hard work will pay off for her at secondary school wherever she ends up!

Hope she gets the result she deserves!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:46 pm 
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jabba7 wrote:
This is a great post.

I think it should be a combination.

Quote:
50% of the mark should come from teachers assessment on academic and attitude backed up by CATs and SATS.

50% should come from one test of about one hour.

That's how I would change things :D



Jabba that is pretty much word for word what my son number two said last year!

Bizarrely if you get a near miss and have to appeal, this is very close to what it amounts to, great grades over several years, good attitude and effort with no big ups and downs and a decentish mark in the test. (With extenuating circumstances too)

Sadly some parents would give teachers a terrible time, fussing around.

Then again, it may act as a big incentive for parents paying attention to teachers and ensuring their kids behave really well at school. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:49 pm 
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jabba7 wrote:
This is a great post.

I think it should be a combination.

50% of the mark should come from teachers assessment on academic and attitude backed up by CATs and SATS.

50% should come from one test of about one hour.

That's how I would change things :D


Schools have to pay for CATs. Ours doesn't have the money. SATS don't exist. There are fresh KS2 tests for year 6 at the end of year 6 every year. This is too late to be of any use. A test of 1 hour is pretty unreliable. If I had listened to some of the teachers' opinions at my children's schools we would be destined for failure from year R in this household.

What people want is a test of native wit that can't be practised beforehand and they want a fresh paper every year so there can't be any cheating. Unfortunately all these things are incompatible. A good test of ability takes a lot of time, effort, expertise, testing and standardisation. This is why the best tests cost a lot for Education Psychologists to purchase and teachers and the general public cannot buy them. They take a lot of time to administer one to one too.

And even then they are not perfect.

It's impossible.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:08 pm 
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I think they should go for explaining the whole thing online; complete transparency - all the maths and English that should have been covered, all the verbal and NVR types, sample papers - then everyone could see where they were and have a fair go at it. As it is, all this secrecy just makes people want to tutor more.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:58 pm 
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I agree with Grammar schools.. my DD is in Year 7 at a NON Grammar..as she has always been "average" Academically. If i had wanted to push her, i could have got her a Tutor or sent her to Saturday school for the year or so prior to the 11 plus and maybe she would have just about passed it. But what's the point?? That's not what going to a Grammar is all about (IMO). She would not have thrived at a Grammar, and i wouldn't want her being bottom of the class all the way through secondary.
My DS has just sat the 11 plus (yesterday). He is naturally very bright and would thrive in a Grammar. He has never had a private Tutor, never been to any kind of extra education... all we did was a few practice papers in the summer holidays (as ad when he wanted to do one). IF he fails, then so be it. I look at it as "a loss to the system and the Grammar schools"!! But he is bright and would go into a normal school and still do well.
The system is wrong, i agree... but it's the parents and the Tutors that have destroyed the system. If no child was tutored...eg if there was no such thing as a private tutor... then each child would be in the same boat, sitting the same test... and the results would be fair across the board. :?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:06 pm 
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Great post.

You hit the nail on the head by saying that the options if you fail are not great. In our area there is very little choice for those that fail. Not everyone is willing to expose their children to religion so that's the church schools out (even if you can manage to jump through the hoops that they set to get in) and the quality of the other high schools is debatable.

If there were better options for those who fail then there would be less desperation to get into the grammars. I have friends whose children have just sat the exam in full knowledge that they probably won't pass but they have literally no clue where to send them if they don't. Neither religious indoctrination at the Church schools or thuggish behaviour at the the high schools appeal.

More choice for all please!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:16 pm 
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Kentishmaid wrote:
I think they should go for explaining the whole thing online; complete transparency - all the maths and English that should have been covered, all the verbal and NVR types, sample papers - then everyone could see where they were and have a fair go at it. As it is, all this secrecy just makes people want to tutor more.


That makes a lot more sense than all this tutor proof hypocrisy and people pretending they did no preparation when they did. At one time Kent used to openly say that the test was gl and the gl papers in the shops were the best preparation for the kent test. Now you have to have a degree in nosiness to know this. Even finding that explanatory document on the website in July or whenever it was was like an online game of hide and seek. A child at our school had not seen it.

It's less fair than it was and parading as something it is not.


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